Last year’s Alister MacKenzie Invitational ended in dramatic fashion as San Diego State roared from 10 strokes behind in the final round to within two of the Cal men’s golf team.
While the Bears were able to deflect the Aztec’s arrows to take the tournament title for the second year in a row, San Diego State will be looking for redemption at this year’s event on Oct. 17 and 18.
“Our team can shoot those types of scores again,” sophomore Brandon Hagy said. “The question is, can SDSU keep up again?”
While SDSU is looking to wrap up some unfinished business at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif., No. 2 Oregon — the top ranked team in the tournament — will be there to assert itself as a new power in the annual event. The tournament host Bears will have to fend off the onslaught of both the blood-thirsty Aztecs and the newly dominant Ducks if they want a three-peat at the Mackenzie Invitational.
With five wins at the event in the last 10 years, the Bears acknowledge a considerable advantage that comes with being the tournament host.
“Being at home adds a certain excitement,” junior Max Homa said. “This is one of the courses we know the best, if not the best. We’ve always done well in our home event.”
A victory this year may not come easy for the Bears. The Ducks have won both of the events they have played this season. San Diego State has two top-five finishes this season, including a fourth place finish behind the Ducks last week at the Prestige Invitational. Thirteen other teams are also in the field, and in golf a Cinderella story is always a realistic possibility.
While these teams may be having impressive seasons, the Meadow Club has a few elements that can trip up any winning streak. The course is relatively short but features large undulating greens with several potential hole locations. It was created by tournament namesake Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the legendary course architect who designed such classic courses as Augusta National Golf Club. The Meadow Club is the first American course designed by MacKenzie, who was known for making the difficult appear simple.
“The tricky part is that it is a short course,” Hagy said. “There are a lot of birdie holes, but you can’t get too greedy. If you get in the wrong spot on these greens, it can be very hard to save par.”
Homa agrees with this analysis, but he views the difficult greens as an advantage for the Bears. They may be hazardous, but those greens just may turn out to be the Bears’ biggest asset.
“The greens here are pretty crazy, but they are the biggest defense of the course,” Homa said. “They are quite complex and could trip up the other teams, but we play here so much we know where you want to be and where you don’t want to be.”